contemporary west african art


For the past few months I’ve been experimenting with trying out the hand techniques I learnt in Ghana on a monofilament warp. This was to highlight the structure of the woven fabric with the use of clear yarn - and I ended up with some interesting pieces! Since setting up the dobby loom I’ve continued exploring this avenue, making more similar pieces with added embroidery inspired by woven cloth from Mali and Guinea-Bissau.

I love the combination of using a clear warp with silks from Iran - a mix of natural and synthetic, traditional hand techniques mixed with utilising the capabilities of a 16 shaft loom and the added embroidery gives the piece an added layer cultural references.

Next up I’ll be making some cushions for sale, but will be definitely working on some more of these monofilament pieces too :)


Yusuf Adebayo Cameron Grillo  aka Yusuf Grillo

Country: Nigeria

Style: Expressionist

Medium: Oil on Canvas

Fun Fact: He makes use of his western art training in many of his paintings, combining western art techniques with traditional Yoruba sculpture characteristics. His preference for color blue in natural settings paintings, is sometimes similar to the adire or resist-dye textiles used in Nigeria.



1. Girl in blue

2.The Flight

3. African Woman with Gele

4. The Blue Madonna

5. Humra

6. Mendicants

7. Blue Moon


Issa Samb aka Joe Ouakam

Country: Senegal

Style: Semi-Realist

Medium: Mixed

Fun Fact: As opposed to taking the gallery route, Issa Samb prefers to showcase his works in his garden in Lagos. Issa’s Garden is his own Gallery

Quote: All my life, I have battled with ideas, time. At all times, I explore the soul, that deep well


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Angu Walters

Country: Cameroon

Style: Surrealism

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas

Fun Fact: His interest in painting started when he was a boy experimenting with ink from different pen colors, mixed and applied them on torn cardboards, which were sometimes hung on the walls of his mother’s sitting room. His mother invited Spee, a very famous artist to show him what the child was doing with the materials he could find in his milieu, thereafter the artist took him to his workshop, under his guidance so to better improve on his skills.




2. Kora Player III

3. Mask

4. The Broken Bridge

5. The Fulani. The Cow. The Milk

6.  Sunshine in my mind

7.Knowledge is Power


Appiah Ntiaw

Country: Ghana

Style: Figurative/Abstract

Medium: Acrylics on canvas

Fun Fact: now works for a firm dealing in leather bags and accessories in Denmark

Quote: I see myself as a motivator.  If I paint a woman carrying a pot for an example, I make it in such a way, that when one looks at my African art paintings, I try to do it in such a way that the woman looks nice and is dressed nicely.  People sometimes make Black African art such that we as African people, we look out of date, primitive, or dirty, which is an inaccurate whole perspective of Africa.  If you see my paintings, you always see Africans dressed nicely.  So I say in that way I am a motivator for self-esteem when I am depicting my people in my African art paintings.


1. Lift Up

2. Day Beauty

3. The Embrace



6. Music Makers

7. Reclaiming our Past

8. My Twins


Victor Ekpuk

Country: Nigeria

State of Beings (Totem) : installation, 220 x510x452x4 cm, acrylic vinyl and metal on wood panel and vinyl mat, 2013, Courtesy of the artist and Fondation Jean-Paul Blachère, Apt, France.

State of Beings is a mixed media installation that combines painting and sculpture in equal measure. The sculptural portion of the work stands upright against the wall whereas the painting is primarily on the floor. The two connect through the continuous lines of Nsibidi, an ancient graphic system that is autochthonous to south-eastern Nigeria and the Ejagham area of northern Cameroon. The swirling script-like patterns of State of Beings are also based on Ekpuk’s own invented signs. The fluidity of the symbols creates continuity in the installation, merging the wall into the ground seamlessly. Conceptually, the installation is a totemic portrayal of the male-female binary as composite of the human condition. The two figures physically face each other. Their emotional and psychic connection is evident in the thick red line that runs across the work, from the head of the male figure to the head of the female.

Victor Ekpuk was born in Nigeria in 1964. In 1989 Victor received his Bachelor of Fine Art degree (BFA), Obafemi Awowolo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, where he first explored the aesthetic philosophies in indigenous African art forms like Nsibidi, and Uli. Their economy of lines and encoded meanings led him to further explore drawing as writing, and to the invention of his own glyphs. In addition to operating a painting studio in Lagos, he was also a prominent editorial illustrator/political cartoonist for Nigerian newspapers before moving to the United States in 1999. He currently lives and works in Washington DC.


Dil Humphrey-Umezulike aka Dilomprizulike aka The Junkman Of Africa


Style: neo-expressionist sculpture

medium: Mixed/ Junk

Fun Fact: He creates sculptures and performances that are tied deeply to traditional African masquerade yet informed by postmodern awareness. He lives in what seems to be a junkyard in a permanent performance, recycling the detritus of Lagos into artwork, clothes, a home, and a way of life that questions much of what we take for granted.

Quote:Talent is not Enough.In my 25 years of art practice, I have severally encountered a curious need to attend to a characteristically fleeting and ever smaller world which seems also almost non-existent. This development tends to vehemently challenge established norms of art practice as well as the modules of art education, thereby dictating a significant shift in the exploration of artistic practices; not only in the packaging of aesthetics, myths and skills in artistic creations but more as a vehicle of expression; in respect to the place and iconic rendering of art in and for an evolving society. In no other time therefore is the demand for a dynamic representation of art so necessary.


1. The Face Of The City

2. Waiting for Bus


4.Waiting for the Bus


Ben Osawe

Country: Nigeria

Style: modern

Medium: Pastel on paper

Fun Fact: “An artist of moral rectitude and genial constitution, he is certainly not marginal in the chronicle of the country’s visual arts, but the centrality of his personality, his art and its influence is an issue- one that will be argued in a colloquy- on his art.”

Quote: “In 1976, I decided to leave Lagos, where I lived and maintained a studio for about 10 years, to settle down permanently in
Benin city. This decision was brought about by my increasing inability to concentrate properly on my creative activity which was not unconnected to the hustle and bustle of Lagos.”


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